We love neps! Since as long as we can remember, neps have played an important role in making our clothing stand out from the crowd and sprinkling colour into our sustainable wardrobes. Neps have helped create some of our most iconic looks, from our ever-popular Seppanger tee to our most recents forays into recycled knitwear and dresses. See our Tahanea roll-neck knit for a great example of how neps can elevate an elegant style.
But hang on…
What are neps?
Neps, as we know them, are little snowballs of fibres that are woven into the fabric of garments to give them a special dotted appearance. Neps can be subtle and small, or big and bold. But their purpose is always the same: to bring out the beauty of a garment.
Neps can also be a symbol of a garment’s sustainability, because many recycled fabrics automatically come with different coloured neps. They occur naturally in the recycling process as a result of the different fibres coming together and producing a multi coloured weave. You can therefore see neps one of two ways: as a mark of distinction or as a quirk of imperfection. That’s because fast and high fashion tends to place a focus on smooth, seemingly perfect garments that are in fact made from materials that trash the planet. Personally we think that embracing imperfection and revelling in the originality that comes with both neps and sustainable fashion, is a big step in the right direction!
Here are some of our favourite facts about fabric neps:
1. Neps used to be viewed negatively
We’re not quite sure who wouldn’t love wearing these cute little tufts of colour and yet even today, you’ll find plenty of research papers that describe neps as “defects” in cotton textiles. They form during the “ginning” process of cotton yarn production, which is the mechanised separation of cotton seeds from the fibre itself. Many fabric mills have attempted to eradicate neps completely, but we think that far from diminishing a fibre’s quality, they help to bring out the base colour and make it more original.
2. Neps make every garment unique
Which leads us onto our next point: garments that contain neps are naturally unique. Each one is different from the last, because neps appear randomly on each garment meaning that YOUR nepped style is different from everyone else’s. Fashion at its best is a mode of expression that tells the world who we are. Which is what makes the “one of a kind” appearance of neps so valuable.
3. Neps can come in any colour
A quick browse through our latest styles shows you that we use neps in a variety of colours. Some styles even contain different shades of neps like our Maro men’s jumper which results in a more interesting look containing a richer array of colours. They also create texture in a garment, giving it greater kinesthetic appeal.
4. You won’t see neps trending
Part of the problem with fast fashion is that it relies on trending styles that are here today, in the bin tomorrow. Neps are a step back from this approach to what we wear, because they don’t get caught up in a trend cycle. Quite the opposite: they have a timeless quality that once again reflects the originality of their wearer. If what you’re looking for is something a bit different, then neps are the way to go.
5. Neps can be organic, recycled, and eco-friendly
We wouldn’t be using them otherwise! All our neps form part of our sustainable collection of clothing that is only made from organic, recycled, and eco-friendly fibres. In theory, the only eco-friendly fibres that don’t contain neps are semi-synthetics like the gorgeous TENCEL™ Lyocell and LENZING™ ECOVERO™ branded viscose. These fibres have their own benefits, but the way they’re produced means that neps don’t come naturally to them.
Where to start with neps
We recommend browsing our site and trying out a few eye-catching nepped tees or knits. On the other hand, the ideal place to start with neps would be from the ground up! The majority of our sustainable socks contain neps, making them a unique accessory that can show the world you pay attention to detail and style. Create a subtle impression with the Spaatz: a white pair of basic socks in recycled cotton, or the Nyord, which offer a classy black look offset by colourful neps. For something bolder and warmer, you could try our Grindall nep socks that come in mustard and burgundy. These are made from 60% recycled wool making them better for the environment and cosier for you.
From there you can expand your nep collection by going for our classic Seppanger top or jumper, which feature whale embroidery. This could be paired with our nepped jogging bottoms, the Fereday. Like our socks, Fereday is lovingly made from Recover™ recycled cotton to create a low impact on the planet. Our men’s tee, Bird is another basic made along the same lines with red and yellow neps. Finally, parents won’t be disappointed with one of our popular kids styles, the San Juan top, featuring a generous sprinkling of multi-coloured neps.
Neps can make for the ultimate winter wardrobe wonder, something to simultaneously brighten your day and feel suitably in-season. As the new year has just started - why not try out something different?